Ever get really thirsty? I mean, so thirsty that the desire for something cold and wet drives you to near madness? This happened to the Israelites as they were wandering in the desert, learning life’s lessons from God. Because of their thirst, they grumbled and complained to Moses, to the point of totally forgetting what the Lord had already done for them, and wishing that they had never left their life of slavery!
The Lord chose to use this moment in their historic journey to teach them something that they wouldn’t fully understand, but that we today can quickly recognize as a symbolic precursor of an event that happened 2,000 years ago.
Today’s Scripture reading is from Exodus 17:1-6
“All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”
But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”
And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.”
You know, as many times as I’ve read this story, I didn’t grasp the words the Lord spoke when He said, “I will stand before you there ON THE ROCK at Horeb, and you shall STRIKE the rock….and water shall come….and people will drink.”
Why is this significant? Did the Lord need to actually stand there on the rock? No. Did they see Him? Unknown. Did He even need to be present? No. He could have just sent Moses over there and said, “Strike the rock”, and water would come out of it. Or, the Lord could have told Moses to say, ” Water, come forth.”
Instead, consider this: He was foreshadowing a future day when the Rock of our faith, Jesus, would be struck, and his lifeblood would flow freely for all; as He had said He would give us his living water. Just maybe the Lord stood on that rock with the intent of showing his people, the elders, that He is and always will be their provider of what they need: daily provisions of water and bread (they had just started their daily manna rations), and the eternal provision of living water and the bread of life. This could only happen as a result of his pending and predicted crucifixion and resurrection.
Our God willingly came down to be with Moses and the Israelites as they went to the rock for much-needed, life-giving water, and He stood on it as a sign.
The Lord’s actions displayed that all of his creation obeys his command, including even the hardened cold rocks. That is, except for man, whose heart can be just as hardened and callous.
Have you grumbled about an area of your life that you’re not satisfied with, or complained about what the Lord has given you?
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8
Food for thought: Are you still thirsty even though you follow Jesus? Perhaps what you’re craving isn’t something that you truly need…perhaps you should try to focus more on what Jesus HAS given you and HAS done for you. Trust me: if you do, then your hunger and thirst will change to things of God; things that are close to his heart.
Fun facts: Our brains are comprised of about 73% water. When we get low on this fuel, neurons in the brain send out a signal for water. We drink and we instantly feel satisfied, regardless of the fact that it hasn’t even hit our bloodstream yet! Another mystery of this brain that God has given us.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Waters fall in Sequoia